updated 2/10/2011 11:25:37 AM ET 2011-02-10T16:25:37

U.S. Congress' failure to pass a 2011 defense budget bill is jeopardizing the military's effort to send more surveillance and attack drones into Afghanistan, as well as stymieing plans to buy a new Navy submarine, Army combat helicopters and other major weapons systems, defense leaders say.

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As Pentagon officials fan out across Capitol Hill, pleading for lawmakers to approve the 2011 spending levels proposed by the Obama administration, they also are hitting lawmakers where it hurts — in their congressional districts and states. Less money in the budget, the officials said, will put at risk thousands of jobs and construction projects nationwide.

Right now the U.S. is operating under a stopgap budget extension that funds the federal government at the 2010 level. And Republicans, who control the House and gained ground in the Senate in the 2010 elections, have said they intend to use this opportunity to end dozens of programs and slash spending on many more.

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Overall, the Army, Navy and Air Force say they would lose at least $26 billion if the spending level stays largely the same as 2010, compared with the larger 2011 budget request made by the administration.

"This is going to have a really significant impact on us in four main areas," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said. "And time is not on our side. By March we'll be almost halfway through the fiscal year. Even if you get (the budget) done in March, it still is going to be hard to do some of these things."

Republican response
Laying out a plan for $35 billion in program cuts and terminations Wednesday, Republicans said they were determined to keep their pledge to the American people to rein in federal spending. Some, including congressman Jeff Flake of Arizona, said he'd prefer to see even more savings.

Video: Issa: Little friction within GOP over budget (on this page)

But other lawmakers have spoken out against cutbacks in defense spending.

Senator Susan Collins, a Republican, said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that is unacceptable that the military, in its 10th year of war, be expected to absorb such budget reductions.

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Military officials were quick to say they will make sure that forces in Iraq and Afghanistan get what they need. But the cuts will affect training and equipment for troops at home — and many of those are slated for future deployments to the war zone.

On Wednesday, Republican lawmakers rolled out a plan to give the Pentagon about $518 billion, which is about $1 billion more than the 2010 level, but still well short of the $531 billion recommended in Obama's 2011 request. There were no details on how much each military service would get.

'The trade-offs are real'
If the totals in the stopgap spending bill stick, the Army would lose as much as $13 billion, the Air Force about $7 billion and the Navy nearly $6 billion.

Living with those cuts, military leaders said, would force costly delays in major programs, such as the purchase of 24 hunter-killer Reaper drones used heavily in Afghanistan, the construction of a new Virginia-class submarine, a naval destroyer and an E-2D Hawkeye airborne command and control aircraft.

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As an example, the decreased funding would give the Air Force $1.2 billion less for salaries and personnel costs than the 2011 funding bill, and would require shifting money around later this summer in order to meet the payroll in the final quarter of the fiscal year.

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"The trade-offs are real," said Jamie Morin, assistant Air Force secretary for financial management. "We would have to pull that money from other major programs."

Air Force Maj. Gen Alfred Flowers, the deputy assistant secretary for the budget, said 36 construction projects already have been deferred, and that number could go as high as 129, for a total of $1.1 billion, if the money is not restored.

The Navy said the cuts have delayed and could jeopardize nearly 90 construction projects in 13 states, threatening up to 7,300 jobs. And it could force cancellation of major maintenance on ships, aircraft and engines that would affect another 1,300 private sector jobs.

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At the same time, program delays could trigger price increases down the road. Canceling the order for a submarine this year would increase the cost of one that is already being built, Mabus said. He added that the cuts would cost the Marine Corps about a third of its procurement budget for equipment.

Army officials said the cuts could delay the awarding of contracts for a new ground combat vehicle, putting delivery of the first vehicle behind schedule. And there would be no money to buy four new Chinook transport helicopters that are used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Issa: Little friction within GOP over budget

  1. Closed captioning of: Issa: Little friction within GOP over budget

    >> " morning joe ," a live look at capitol hill . still with us, jon meacham and harold ford jr . and joining us, republican congressman from california, representative darrell issa . also here on set, chairman of deutsch incorporated, donny deutsch .

    >> come on, he's the love doctor now. okay? o +ksk]-?r

    >> why don't we tell everyone about monday night.

    >> i'm on tv now. you're the love doctor.

    >> yes, i am.

    >> how's that working out for you.

    >> do you want me to call you that, donny?

    >> monday night, a full hour on pier piers morgan . that's this juggernaut.

    >> i think he promoted ? himself on another network. i was trying to figure out what to do with my wife on valentine valentine's night, now susan and i know, we'll be watching donny deutsch .

    >> i'll be taking calls from women.

    >> that is exciting.

    >> can we go to issa .

    >> the chairman. he is a chairman now.

    >> yes, he is.

    >> chairman issa , thank you so much for being with us. we want to talk to you about what you're doing but let's talk about the stories in the media. there is a back and forth, i think it's very healthy, between the republican chairman and the republican fresh mayman on the size of cuts. republicans are up to 40 billion in the house. the freshmen and other conserve conservatives want it to go higher. what's going on and where do you think this will end up.

    >> i'm sure we'll end up at a return rate of greater than $100 billion on an annualized basis. being part of the way through the year, there's a typical scoring problem of people want to score the rest of the year rather than what your run rate is for the whole year. i'm confident we'll get over 100 billion in real cuts on an annualized basis and continue accelerating. remember, this is the first cut. then we come back to deal with entitlements which is a large pot of money, hard to deal with, but we intend to make real reforms.

    >> mr. chairman, we've been asking this question around the table. we are talking about touching 12% of the budget, the discretionary, nondefense spending, whether they're going to go after the other 88%. from what you're saying, it sounds like the republicans are. you're planning to go after medicare , medicaid, social security and pentagon spending in a way that gets us out of our debt crisis in the long run?

    >> we are. and in fact, president obama with secretary gates began the process. there have been some real cuts in defense spending , additionally, we've found and it will come out this week from appropriations some additional security cuts that can be made without reducing our troops in the field real effectiveness.

    >> obviously ? there was the lunch with republican leaders, john boehner , eric cantor and kevin mccarthy among those that went to lunch with the president.

    >> they are the neatest eaters.

    >> good. i hope they represented well. after that, they struck a cooperative tone. take a listen.

    >> there are areas we are going to disagree about but i think all of us know that there are some issues that we can work on together. whether it's education, whether it's tax policy , whether it's trade or even cutting spending, i think we can find common ground and show the american people that we're able to work together.

    >> we did have a fairly robust conversation about the need for all of us to work together to send a signal that we're serious about cutting spending. we had agreement on that. i guess the particulars and the details will be where the disagreements may lie.

    >> we look to places that we could work together on, from jobs to cutting the government spending . and it was a beginning and a start. we look forward to having the president on his word where we can move legislation, where we can create new jobs in america.

    >> do you think kevin brought his charts?

    >> i think kevin mccarthy brought his charts and i think everybody else brought their best behavior because jon meacham , i have not heard republicans and democrats sound so cooperative together, well, since 2001 . it's been a while .

    >> i was struck by your common ground , you heard agreement, work together, move forward. i don't know what the president served at lunch but they should keep serving it.

    >> i'll have what he's having.

    >> exactly. mr. chairman issa , i have a quick question. were you surprised by this tone? did anything specific happen yesterday that hasn't been in the works for the last couple of weeks?

    >> i think the president begins laying out a real attempt to make cuts on a bipartisan basis and we/vd sort of settled, i hope, past that, each side testing how strong we can look. i think the president realizes that whether it's cutting defense spending , reauthorizing the patriot act or going after the entitlements that have confounded many presidents, it's going to have to be done on a bipartisan basis. more important, the republicans have to be an enabler of good government behavior unlike the last several years in which, quite frankly , the other party was enabling, if you will, the worst part of government, the growth of government beyond what's reasonable.

    >> there's a new gallup poll that came out talking about how the president is handling the deficit. many americans still give the president very low marks on the handling of the economy. when it comes to the deficit only 27% approve, 68% disapprove. the president's having problems with this and, of course, so are house republicans as well, they're battling in between.

    >> representative issa , i want to ask you about that. "the new york times" is talking about the republican plan to trim $40 billion from the budget. they're reporting there's a mini revolt going on within the party with conservative members demanding many more cuts, of course, the discussion we're having here at the table. how much friction is there with some of your colleagues?

    >> not really a whole lot. remember that -- we score this higher than $40 billion. i think it's around 57 for the remaining part of the year. these cuts are a first cut. we have said on the floor with the continuing resolution that every member, especially if you will, those who are saying we should cut more, should look at the appropriations and find cuts, quite frankly , i'm positive that there will be republicans offering and probably having accepted real additional cuts on the floor. but that's not going to be the leadership or one chairman picking what to cut. it's going to be the will of the people by a majority on the house floor which really, mika , is the right way to make additional cuts at this point.

    >> you know, darrell , if you ? have, by the way, any questions about love as well as the budget you don't have to go on craigslist anymore. we have the love doctor here.

    >> joe , yesterday mika shut you down on hooters. today you're doing harold baals. i'm not getting into that with you, i promise.

    >> i am bruised up and down my arm, darrell . it's been a rough week.

    >> i have a question. you were talking in the first hour, 88% of the money is on the big four, medicare , medicaid, social security and pentagon. i want to game this out for a second. there is a bugaboo in the corner. what would happen, i don't understand why from a political sense you can't go after it. the democrat goes after it, a republican is going to say, we can't do that. he would look like the biggest fool 23 fool in the world. we all know it has to happen. i don't understand, even politically why it can't happen.

    >> you have to lock arms. darrell , when the trustees said medicare was going bankrupt, it was medi-scare, he said we were trying to hurt old people to give tax cuts to the rich. they talked about debt panel. darrell , with he looking at an extended game often here where at some point democrats and republicans will have to lock arms and do this together to tackle four areas that you and the president and everybody knows need to be tackled?

    >> joe , i think we'll have to play the game of little successes. there's about 120 billion of estimated waste in medicare . going after waste and fraud in medicare should be low-hanging fruit. e programs that have built up, for example, in social security . i was with a banker yesterday, making several hundred thousand dollars or more a year. but he's over 65 and has two children under 65. so each -- two ? children that are under 18. and they each get $800 a month from social security , because back in the '60s they said we had to have it to support over 65 people. in this case he's not retired. he's living in a huge house, flying around the world. we can't make those kinds of cuts if we do it on a bipartisan basis in social security . if we do that, if we make the cuts that make common sense , then as we start dealing with raising the retirement age , and other incremental steps that are much larger, hopefully we'll build up the confidence if we make an agreement, we go to the floor, vote it together, we don't demagogue it.

    >> congressman, the committee you chair will be looking at the impediments of job creation and you'll be making specific targets regulations. tell bus that.

    >> mika , what we're doing, we've been on a listening session. back in june, the president through omd did the same thing, he said to the business roundtable , what are the impediments, the regulations that are hurting your ability to compete against other countries. we've done the same thing. we have over 2,000 pages of responses. we've categorized and we've had the general accountability office give us some help so we do it factually. now we'll have a group of witnesses, large and small business , and have them begin telling us what they believe were the greatest impediments. we're not saying they are. what we're seeing is that business believes that. as a result we should see if we can't clear some of that way. all the way back ronald reagan , don't be misunderstood, i'm not here to close down government but i want to make it work with the people. that's what we need to do. we need to figure out where government has grown by three or four times in the way of regulation and makes it more convenient to produce overseas than here. these are impediments that are not about how much you pay the employee. it's how much you pay in time and waste to the government.

    >> darrell issa , harold ford , good morning. i applaud your efforts in trying to determine what's getting in the way of job ? creation.

    >> harold, come back, you were a champion for this.

    >> you talk about the entitlement, would you be willing -- i like your story 65 or older and the younger kids getting the money. would you be open to the idea of raising the retirement age , because ultimately that's how we lower this debt. you and both know and joe and mika and particularly joe over the years made this point over and over again. we have to get serious about these entitlements.

    >> you're exactly right on both counts. people over 56 are willing to have means testing to help reduce the burdening on the social security trust fund . certainly, i absolutely believe that raising the retirement age for those who in fact are in good health makes a lot of sense and people who continue working.

    >> representative darrell issa , thank you


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